View Full Version : SOFA in Afghanistan?

01-18-2013, 03:45 PM
Moderator's Note

I have relocated this thread to the OEF-Afghan forum (On 8th March 2013;ends).

A neat article on an issue some may prefer not being in the open; which opens with:
One of the outcomes of the current US-Afghan summit in Washington reported by Afghan media is the apparent emergence of a new Afghan special operations force, the “Foundation Force for Afghanistan”. Still there is no official confirmation of this. Our guest blogger Gary Owen(*) writes, however, that this would be very much in line with the US emphasis on Afghan SOF training and partnership and, when involving private military contractors, would enable the US to maintain direct influence over Afghan SOF while still withdrawing troops.


I noted the re-appearance of Blackwater PMC, now known as Academi.

A longer backgrounder, by the same author:http://www.aan-afghanistan.org/index.asp?id=3069

MSG Proctor
01-27-2013, 01:03 PM
President Obama is correct that American troops should not remain in Afghanistan without a status of forces agreement. He will need to be far more committed to achieving that agreement than he was when Washington sought to negotiate a SOFA with Iraq. It is said that Baghdad now regrets that it did not agree to a SOFA—the country is once again teetering on the brink of ethnic conflict—and is advising Kabul not to make the same mistake.


I am in Kandahar and wondering how the Small Wars Council sees this playing out.

The Taliban's Voice of Jihad propaganda is here (http://shahamat-english.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20657:security-contract-or-the-contract-of-insecurity&catid=2:comments&Itemid=3).

The stay of American troops in Afghanistan after the year 2014 and providing them immunity against the internal laws have neither concurrence with the Islamic principles nor with the Afghan gallantry nor with our national traditions. Giving the right to an aggressor to ramble freely in our Islamic country and in case of committing cruelty and infringement against the Muslim dwellers of the country while the Afghan courts have no power to penalize them according to the Islamic Sharia law; it will not only be a great mourning for the Afghan nation but will also be hundred percent against Islam, humanity and justice.

01-27-2013, 03:10 PM
MSG Proctor,

I have moved an earlier post on the thread 'Afghan Exit:why, how and more in country and beyond' which hopefully gives some context to your quest about a SOFA.

It does appear from the earlier post something is being done to enable a PMC with Afghan SOF to "stay behind" and so give both Kabul and the USA a capability to act in CT, not COIN action.

MSG Proctor
01-29-2013, 09:18 AM
The "zero option" alluded to in that article is what concerns me. We are running out of geopolitical capital to squander on hasty exits.

01-29-2013, 11:58 AM
MSG Proctor,

By coincidence, timely maybe, the daily book reading on BBC Radio Four is from the new book on the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), which ended with an appalling disaster in the retreat from Kabul. My book is the old classic 'Kabul Catastrophe: The Retreat of 1842, by Patrick Macrory (paperback 1986).

Concern exists here, within government, over as you wrote:
We are running out of geopolitical capital to squander on hasty exits.

The history of Afghanistan and external involvement has plenty of lessons on display, I do wonder if those immersed in Afghanistan today have learnt much from them - even the latest Soviet exit.

Understandably there is political and military weight behind an orderly, phased exit; far better than a hasty exit, but there are other possibilities. The Second Afghan War (1878-1880) gave the British more bloody lessons (incidentally a historian of that war is giving a talk @ Oxford University next month, on how the British conducted their exit).

A US SOFA sounds horribly like "saving face" alongside maintaining a capability for coercive action - for national US reasons - within Afghanistan, maybe next door too.

You being in Kandahar is appropriate, stay safe.

MSG Proctor
01-29-2013, 02:07 PM
The Taliban are hammering away at the theme of a SOFA agreement being anti-Islam, against Sharia, against Islamic tradition, and unjust towards Afghans.
While many see through their rhetoric, the greater % of the illiterate population that are beholden to their mullahs for accurate, credible information, guidance, and religious legal rulings are affected the by the Taliban's messaging.
All I'm saying is that the Taliban are leveraging religion in a way that is cheap, appealing and effective towards their end state. The GIRoA and ANSF have a tall order in front of them to answer the claims of the Taliban insurgency. The people of southern Afghanistan are very, very religious.

01-29-2013, 04:53 PM

In your reading did you come across anything on the relationship between numbers of troops post 2014 and planned elections? What can be the status of any agreement in that background?

01-29-2013, 05:11 PM
As the United States prepares to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the region is abuzz with developments over the country’s future, particularly in the context of the Taliban’s role. The latest headline from this swiftly-paced drama was a meeting from December 20-21, 2012 in Paris with representatives of the Afghan Taliban, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, members of Afghanistan’s parliament, civil society, political groups that were earlier part of the Northern Alliance and figures who have been associated with the government.[i] The meeting was organized by the Foundation for Strategic Research, a French think tank.[ii]

Yes, stay safe.

01-29-2013, 07:48 PM

In your reading did you come across anything on the relationship between numbers of troops post 2014 and planned elections? What can be the status of any agreement in that background?

No. IIRC the national Afghan elections are in December 2014, although no date was actually found a month ago.

I would expect a SOFA will be on the political agenda long before then, President Karzai's stance is not helpful. The question I expect many Afghans are wondering about is what will be the US role post-2014 and what does the Afghan state need to do for the USA?

MSG Proctor
01-30-2013, 08:12 AM
If we calculate that the Taliban are fostering an information environment that forces Afghan politicians to draw from the Iraq playbook (talk tough against the US-led Coalition to bolster your own political support in a new democracy) then we see clearly where they want this to head.

The backdrop of all this is of course the so-called Arab Spring. Because once the socialist/dictatorships in the ME fell (Iraq, Egypt, Tanzania, Libya, etc...) and the 2009 Tehran uprising failed, the clear winners are the Islamists. What remains to be seen is whether Kabul will honor the sacrifices of a 50-member international coalition that spilt blood to secure Afghanistan or whether Afghanistan will be forced to cave to the pressure of Islamism led by the compelling rhetoric of the Taliban.

If the present US administration (which just changed out the SECSTATE and SECDEF) uses the SOFA as the justification for ending the deployment of US troops prior to December 2014, we may hear a giant sucking sound coming out of Afghanistan much sooner than expected.

01-30-2013, 04:03 PM

In your reading did you come across anything on the relationship between numbers of troops post 2014 and planned elections? What can be the status of any agreement in that background?

Thanks to a FP mailing I can cite what COMISAF said in an interview with WSJ (behind a pay wall):
...Gen. John Allen is calling for a "substantial military presence" in Afghanistan through next year's fighting season.... "We'd like to maintain our campaign so we're as pervasive in our touch this fighting season, because this fighting season Afghans are going to be moving into the lead operationally... We'd like to be with them through the fighting season and then you'd see our numbers come down and then stabilize across the election."

There are about 66,000 American troops in Afghanistan now, and the White House has not announced a withdrawal "slope" yet. But the command is expected to want as much of that force as possible for the last leg of the war in Afghanistan.

Allen is arguing for as robust a presence as possible, citing the lessons learned from the Soviets years ago. Allen: "What we've sought to do is learn from the post-Soviet experience.... It was as the Soviet Union began to come apart, when the advisers first were withdrawn and...when the resources were ultimately withdrawn, that's when we first began to see that [Afghan security] force polarize along ethnic and tribal lines and then everything began to come apart."

Fascinating to see him cite the lessons of the Soviet exit (which is a later part of a SWC thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9483 ).

02-04-2013, 03:31 PM
President Karzai has been interviewed by two UK media outlets and amidst his remarks:
Zero option would be a failure, not success...We wish to have that utopian state of mind, that's the ideal. Why wouldn't I – or why wouldn't any citizen of a country – want no troops on our side? ......Afghanistan needs to rebuild itself … For that we need the presence of the international community with us, our allies.

He makes some remarks about the UK and then US role in Helmand, that are simply amazing:
The question is why do we have Taliban controlling these areas now, when two years ago I had control of Helmand … we had girls in schools and only 160 foreign troops. Factually, what I said then was true, and it remains true today. In 2002 through 2006, (Helmand) Afghanistan had a lot better security. When we had our own presence there, with very little foreign troops, schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure.....But I am not going to blame, and it should not be seen as such. I don't want to be interpreted as saying that the arrival of foreign troops brought less security or worsened security for us. Whatever happened was the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.

Thank you Mr President!:rolleyes:

MSG Proctor
02-05-2013, 06:33 AM
David, I read that interview last night and was impressed by the intimations that there might actually be a SOFA and a continued international presence in Afghanistan. Not sure how much of a power broker he will be after elections in 2014 or how the elections will affect the need for a SOFA, but my takeaway is that Karzai seems committed that ISAF is a good garauntor of security for the short term, maybe even longer.

02-12-2013, 11:31 PM
A WaPo article on how large the US presence maybe. Nothing startling and no mention of a SOFA. Opens with:
The Pentagon is pushing a plan that would keep about 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan once the NATO military mission there ends in 2014 but significantly shrink the contingent over the following two years


02-25-2013, 10:45 AM
Not sure whether this decision by GIRoA is unprecedented, but it does indicate achieving a SOFA maybe difficult:
The Afghan president has ordered US special forces to leave Wardak province within two weeks. The decision was being taken due to allegations of disappearances and torture by Afghans considered to be part of US special forces, said a spokesman for Hamid Karzai.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21566295 and a longer NYT article:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/world/asia/afghanistan-orders-us-troops-from-key-province-of-wardak.html?pagewanted=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130225&pagewanted=all

02-27-2013, 01:49 PM
....doesn't think there will be a SOFA.

Some naif here in the US probably still believes that Karzai's government will give the US legal immunity. Wanna bet?

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/02/httponlinewsjcomarticlesb1000142412788732338460457 8324361080865802html.html

02-27-2013, 07:45 PM
The AAN dissects what happened in Wardak Province:http://www.aan-afghanistan.org/index.asp?id=3274&utm_source=buffer&buffer_share=6dc9b

Elsewhere I read the majority group in Wardak are Hazara and it is the Pashtun minority who are the victims. Alas I cannot recall where I read this, maybe I'm dreaming! Nothing is ever simple.

03-01-2013, 10:40 PM
If you can’t beat them, cheat them. And that is what the Taliban is currently doing to make sure special operations forces aren’t impeding their significantly important operations in Wardak. With the majority of NATO forces on the verge of being pulled out of Afghanistan, the only obstacle remaining will be special operations forces that are poised to remain in the country even after most U.S. forces return home.

This is the conclusion reached by:http://sofrep.com/17610/sof-running-amok-in-wardak/

That sofa is getting very uncomfortable, maybe even unlikely.

03-07-2013, 12:25 AM
The LAT, with reporting in Washington and Wardak:
The story was gruesome: A university student, captured in a U.S. special forces raid, was found decapitated and with his fingers sliced off. Amid a groundswell of public anger, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office cited that incident, as well as reports that nine villagers had been abducted from their homes, when he decided last week to bar the elite U.S. troops from a volatile province at the doorstep of Kabul, a move that could one day put the capital at risk. But the account of the young man's death was wrong, U.S. and local Afghan officials say. He was snared by armed men, not U.S. forces or their Afghan allies, according to Afghan law enforcement officials. In police photos of the body, he has one finger chopped off and a gash on one side of his neck, but he wasn't beheaded.


03-08-2013, 03:50 PM
“The communication gap between Quetta and Qatar has been removed,” says a former senior Taliban minister. “Now the Taliban can confidently set up an office and keep in touch with and receive instructions from the shura.” Pakistan, which at first was lukewarm about the Taliban’s Qatar office and the peace talks there, is now cautiously supportive and is issuing visas and travel documents to the Taliban officials visiting Qatar."


On Wednesday John Kerry will cross the finish line of his first listening tour as Secretary of State. His last stop is Doha, Qatar, a small gulf state with a big problem.

In international politics Qatar is playing a leading role in regional peace and stability. From brokering peace talks for warring Sudanese factions, bailing out Egypt with loans and attempting to mediate the Syrian conflict, this is a nation with grand ambitions.


I believe there are several other monetary and balance of payment crises in the various regions of interest.

05-16-2013, 01:00 PM
An attempt to present clues on what is going on in Kabul over a SOFA:http://www.natowatch.org/node/952

07-02-2013, 05:49 PM
From FP:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called off all talks with the U.S. on the status of U.S. forces there after 2014 until the Taliban agree to meet with him.

That is finesse Afghan-style and makes any planning fraught.

07-08-2013, 08:43 AM
From a short NYT report:
Afghan officials confirmed Sunday that they had arrested and were questioning Zakaria Kandahari, whom they have described as an Afghan-American interpreter responsible for torturing and killing civilians while working for an American Special Forces unit.

The bodies of 10 victims were found near the Special Forces base beginning in April, after the Americans left; the last was discovered on June 4, according to Afghan forensic investigators and relatives of the victims. They had disappeared between November and February.


I assume being in the "care" of the NDS, in a suspected torture facility, will mean a full admission will be forthcoming.

07-10-2013, 03:52 PM
The latest source of Obama-Karzai friction: New U.S. peace talks with the Taliban.

Administration officials have discussed the possibility of the so-called "zero option" in Afghanistan throughout the year.


Pat Lang on the SOFA:

Karzai is not running for another term. He will leave office on a date that roughly coincides with the end of NATOs mandate in his country and Obama's stated intention to withdraw. Karzai clearly holds the US and its "leadership" in amused contampt.


I'm afraid I've "lost the plot" a bit.

10-24-2013, 11:11 PM
Our occasional, non-member contributor Hamid Hussain has provided a commentary on the attachment.

11-18-2013, 11:43 AM
I think the title is correct:
Both Afghan and United States officials have, until now, been tight-lipped as to what is in the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) – which is to be scrutinised by a consultative loya jirga beginning on 21 November. If signed, it will govern the post-2014 deployment of US soldiers in Afghanistan. On Saturday, 16 November 2013, the President’s national security advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, and the chief of the Afghan National Army, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, briefed Parliament on the draft, giving everyone the first solid information of what the two governments have agreed – including the numbers of troops and bases. As AAN’s Kate Clark and Ehsan Qaane report, the officials got a mixed reception from MPs.


I expect this is the key point for Afghans and Americans, especially those who may serve in Afghanistan:
From January 2015, the US military will conduct no operation on Afghan territory unless the Afghan government requests it.

US soldiers who commit crimes on Afghan soil will be prosecuted according to US law. Spanta said they had tried hard to convince the US not to insist on their soldiers having, as he put it, “judicial immunity” (masuniyat-e qaza’i) (he later corrected himself under an MP’s questioning, saying soldiers would not be immune, but would fall under sole US legal jurisdiction). Afghan attempts to get American soldiers alleged to have committed crimes tried according to Afghan law, he said, had failed and Afghanistan, therefore, had two options: accept this condition and sign the BSA or reject this condition and not sign it.

09-25-2014, 03:31 PM
The Obama administration expects that a security agreement allowing U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan next year will be signed by the country’s incoming president as early as next week, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.....The deal will allow some 10,000 American forces to remain in Afghanistan next year after all combat troops are withdrawn at the end of 2014.